Northland's Very Own: Jim Northrup

By KBJR Manager

March 8, 2011 Updated Mar 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM CDT

He is a proud Ojibwa man who served his country despite the discrimination he endured.

It was Jim Northrup's many life experiences that influenced his literary career.

Laura Langemo takes us inside the life of Northland author and poet Jim Northrup.

His words have touched and inspired many lives.

And words are precious to Jim Northrup.

As a child, he was forbidden from speaking his native Ojibwe language and sent to a boarding school where Native students were harshly punished for speaking anything but English.

"The house mother twisted my ear around. I thought she was going to tear it around in a complete circle. She said we don't use that language here. I was six and said 'what's language?'"

Once Jim was old enough, he joined the marines and served in Vietnam.

When he returned, he found himself suffering from the horrors he saw in combat and had to learn how to cope with the dark reality of post traumatic stress disorder.

"He knows about it and he lives with it. So he is able to help those who come back from war and also those who are preparing to go to war."

To get back to his roots, Jim eventually moved back to Sawyer... where he lived in a tee-pee in the woods for six years.
It was during this time that Jim began crafting his stories.

"I invented a character named Luke Warmwater and I wrote the story and I read the story when I had company again. They were falling off the log laughing so I knew I was on to something."

People began hearing about Jim's stories through the grapevine... and he was eventually approached by an editor who wanted to publish his work in a book of short stories.

"He asked me to send him some stories and I sent him 14 and he put them all in the book and he didn't change a word."

Jim has gone on to publish three more books on his own where he uses short stories and poetry to tackle tough issues such as war and racism but at times lightens it all with his special brand of humor.
Northrup hopes to continue using his words to generate love and tolerance for many more years to come.

In Sawyer, Laura Langemo the Northlands NewsCenter.

Jim's latest book is called "Anishinaabe Syndicated."

Jim has also been very proactive in preserving the Ojibwa or Anishinaabe culture and language.